Bybit Learn
Bybit Learn
Jun 9, 2022

Big Green DAO: A Web 3.0 Step Toward Charity by Kimbal Musk

As the internet evolves and Web 3.0 develops into a major cultural force, all sorts of different institutions are discovering exciting new ways to take advantage of blockchain technology. 

Big Green, a charity organization run by Kimbal Musk, sees blockchains as a way to increase the impact of its philanthropic efforts. After years of helping students learn more about gardening, the group has decided to create a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) called Big Green DAO. This article will explore the details of the group’s plan and analyze how the environmentally friendly venture could unlock new possibilities in the world of philanthropy.

What Is Big Green DAO?

The Big Green DAO was created by Big Green, Kimbal Musk’s nonprofit that focuses on food justice and gardening initiatives. The DAO will help decentralize and restructure the grant-making process.

Kimbal Musk, brother of the world-famous entrepreneur Elon Musk, started Big Green in 2011. Since then, the organization has founded and supported gardening programs at schools across the United States. 

Musk and his co-founders have sought to promote healthier eating and environmental awareness by encouraging children to get outside and grow their own food. Now, they’re hoping their latest project, Big Green DAO, will disrupt the grant-making process and promote a philanthropic landscape that empowers nonprofit organizations to maximize their impact.

What Is a DAO?

In launching Big Green DAO, Kimbal Musk and his co-founders are participating in a movement at the very center of decentralized finance (DeFi). DAOs have provided crypto investors with an exciting model for decentralizing and democratizing digital structures. Today, innovators like Musk are pushing the boundaries and finding new uses for these novel entities.

In essence, DAOs are community-led organizations that operate on the foundation of binding smart contracts. Built with blockchain technology, they eliminate the need for centralizing agents or privately controlled servers. They’re completely autonomous, meaning they don’t have to rely on any outside organization to function properly. They’re also entirely transparent, giving users the ability to audit contracts, protocols, and even the code at the heart of the technology.

DAOs are designed to function as democratic institutions. Individual members vote on all major decisions, from treasury allocations to potential technological upgrades. Users can propose changes to the protocol, and everybody involved in the project then comes together to vote. Once the members have reached a consensus or a measure has passed, the proposal moves on to become a part of the organization’s network of smart contracts.

DAOs have come to represent an important innovation within the general DeFi movement. They could also become a pillar of Web 3.0, the next generation of the internet that’s based on smart contracts and blockchain technology. By providing autonomy and democracy, both key components of Web 3.0’s underlying philosophy, DAOs will garner considerable attention in the months and years ahead. For Big Green, the technology represents an exciting way to further the group’s philanthropic mission.

Who Is Kimbal Musk?

While certainly less well-known than his older brother Elon, Kimbal Musk has enjoyed a prominent career of his own. After finding success as an investor and entrepreneur during the early days of the internet, he went on to become a chef and restaurateur. He has opened a network of community-focused restaurants in the United States in locations that include Boulder, Denver and Chicago. He also served as the CEO of an advertising network that was later sold to Walmart.

Alongside his work in the restaurant and advertising industries, Kimbal Musk has worked extensively as a philanthropist, focusing on the issues of food justice and environmental sustainability. 

For seven years, he supported a charity group called the Growe Foundation that planted vegetable gardens at Colorado schools. In 2011, he decided to create his own organization around this same concept. While initially called The Kitchen Community, Musk’s charity is now known as Big Green.

Kimball Musk comes from a renowned South African family of artists and entrepreneurs. His mother, Maye Musk, is a model and dietician. His brother Elon, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, became the world’s richest person in 2021, while his sister, Tosca Musk, is a prominent filmmaker and media executive.

History of Big Green DAO

Big Green DAO represents the coming together of an age-old philanthropic model and a novel approach to social organization. Throughout its first ten years of existence, Big Green operated as a standard environmentally friendly charity. 

The group developed Learning Gardens in schools across the country, giving students a hands-on way to learn about the natural world. Now, Kimbal Musk and other leaders at the charity are looking to harness the power and energy of Web 3.0 to further their goals. If Big Green DAO is successful, it could usher in a new era of charitable giving.

The Start of Big Green

Kimball Musk launched Big Green in 2011 following years of work in the restaurant industry. After becoming a chef and opening a successful chain of restaurants, he decided it was time to help young people learn more about growing food. This initial idea eventually blossomed into a massive charitable operation.

Big Green’s work has long centered on Learning Gardens — outdoor classrooms where students can grow their own food. Musk saw these projects as providing opportunities for young people to become more connected with the outside world. Not only do the students get an up-close look at how natural food is grown, but they also experience the whims of the climate in a way that makes them more respectful of the environment.

Since its founding, Big Green has built Learning Gardens in 650 schools, and the programs teach approximately 350,000 students a day. According to Musk, these educational initiatives are having a genuine impact on kids’ lives. The experience of farming improves children’s mental health, while the food itself increases their nutritional intake. By giving students these opportunities, Musk is living up to his dream of connecting young people with real, natural food.

As Big Green expanded, its forward-looking founder looked for ways to expand its scope. Having seen how front-line workers often know what’s best for nonprofit organizations in the food justice space, Musk wanted to democratize the decision-making process while helping reach more communities with grants. This desire coincided with the rise of blockchain technology and Web 3.0, leading Musk to conceive of Big Green DAO.

The Establishment of Big Green DAO

As a young entrepreneur, Kimbal Musk was one of the first people to recognize the power of the internet. The technology was still in its infancy, and many traditionalists doubted its transformative potential. Musk, along with his brother Elon, saw that web-based services would replace many paper-based products altogether. They soon developed a set of innovative businesses with this key insight in mind.

Zip2, for example, was an online directory that helped replace Yellow Pages as a way for consumers to find businesses. Older entrepreneurs scoffed at the idea that a web-based service could ever outcompete something as integral to everyday life as a phone book. All the same, the Musk brothers persisted in their endeavor. They were vindicated, of course, and are now both billionaires, thanks to Zip2 and subsequent tech-related ventures.

Decades later, Kimbal Musk came to see Web 3.0 as a new technology capable of disrupting everyday life, much as the original internet had done in the 1990s. Now middle-aged himself, he didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the anti-internet naysayers he knew in his youth. Instead of waving away the idealism of Web 3.0 acolytes, he decided to research the phenomenon for himself. Needless to say, he was inspired by what he learned.

Musk quickly made a distinction between mere speculators and genuine Web 3.0 believers. With near-religious zeal, the true believers insist that a new version of the internet, based on the blockchain and embodying the ethos of decentralization, can create a world that’s less wasteful and more equitable. He soon came to share their excitement.

The more Musk learned about the latest trends, the more he thought decentralized models could revolutionize the philanthropic space that Big Green inhabits. He eventually decided that a DAO could help his charity efficiently distribute grants while empowering nonprofit organizations to direct the flow of funding. 

After teaming up with Matthew Markman, a DAO expert with extensive experience in the field, Musk and his charitable organization launched Big Green DAO in the fall of 2021. Just a few months later, the project is already attracting donations and directing funds toward participating nonprofit organizations.

How Will Big Green DAO Work?

Big Green DAO will operate as an autonomous grant-making community designed to fund philanthropic work in a way that empowers frontline workers. The architecture of the platform lets it operate as a charitable organization for legal purposes. This means that in order to maintain its legal status, the DAO must focus solely on issues of food justice. Decision-makers within the community’s structure will be empowered to assess ideas for grants and ensure they fall within the organization’s purview.

Because of the rigor required in such a narrowly defined charitable organization, the DAO has been designed with a general committee that sits at its core. This committee will serve as the executive authority, deciding where funds can be distributed within the DAO, adding and removing new committee members, and modifying the governance rules when necessary. Beneath this committee, the DAO community itself will select where to send grants for charitable projects, based on a ranked-choice voting system. This mechanism is what makes the organization such a revolutionary project in the world of philanthropy.

As a charitable organization, the DAO will be funded with donations. Frontline food justice workers can then vote on the destination of the funds, giving these workers a larger say in the awarding of grants for future projects. 

Whenever an organization receives a grant, the frontline workers at the organization, who have a voting stake in the DAO, can help decide which other organizations should receive grants. Workers will be prohibited from voting for their own organizations, but they’ll be able to draw on their expertise in deciding which other projects in the field are worthy of funding.

What Big Green DAO Does for Charity

Big Green DAO could have a transformative effect on the greater world of philanthropy. Up to now, most DAOs and other Web 3.0 innovations have been geared toward crypto investors and other tech-focused individuals. The Big Green DAO represents a serious attempt to bring the advantages of the blockchain to a new cohort, a group of people who are committed to improving lives and who will appreciate having such a powerful new tool at their disposal.

Many people in the philanthropic community still have a lot to learn about Web 3.0. As they expand their knowledge, they’re likely to notice many ways in which DAOs and other innovations could improve on existing models. For one thing, blockchains and smart contracts could remove a lot of the inefficiencies currently plaguing most philanthropic institutions. By definition, a charitable organization requires the sending of considerable amounts of money. Constant transactions are costly when intermediary institutions like banks are involved. Sending those same funds as cryptocurrencies on a blockchain could eliminate a lot of the overhead.

Cut Costs

The DAO’s model will also help charities cut down on the exorbitant costs associated with simply maintaining normal operations. Sending money through complex institutions requires a lot of accounting and legal work, and all of these tasks are completed by paid employees. If organizations can streamline their operations through DAOs or similar structures, they’ll cut down on waste while getting money where it needs to be more quickly.

Award More Grants

On a simpler level, Big Green DAO will fund a lot of important projects by awarding grants. The group’s funding efforts focus on food justice, regenerative agriculture, public gardens, and food-related education and advocacy. The injection of funds will help these types of programs expand their scope and make a bigger impact on communities.

Democratize Philanthropy

Most importantly of all, Big Green DAO will democratize the philanthropic arena, putting big decisions in the hands of the frontline workers who are best equipped to make them. In the traditional model, uninformed executives are often the ones deciding where money should be sent. In this new DAO, everyday workers — the people who actually see how food justice is best achieved — will instead vote on which organizations should receive grants.

This new dynamic demonstrates the very best of what blockchain technology has to offer. In a decentralized, democratized world, where smart contracts let everyday people make decisions, ignorant pencil-pushers will be sent to the sidelines where they belong.

Goals of Big Green DAO

The leaders at Big Green DAO are hoping to make a difference on multiple levels. In the specific area of food justice, the group plans to direct funds to organizations that are actively fighting to increase access to healthy, natural ingredients. These organizations will benefit directly from the funding that the DAO provides.

Musk is a high-profile individual, and this latest project is attracting interest from crypto enthusiasts around the world. As more people hear about the DAO, many will be eager to donate. This will help grow the general pool of funds available for making grants. The voting members of the DAO will then be able to funnel these funds toward the projects they deem most worthy.

While the DAO is sure to have a massive impact on the food justice movement, Musk also has his sights on even larger changes in the general world of philanthropy. If the project pans out, other philanthropic organizations could adopt a similar model. Countless charities in various sectors could turn to blockchain technology as a new way to streamline their operations and democratize the decision-making process. Eventually, the experiment could lead to a world where charities can better serve their areas of focus.

How to Donate to Big Green DAO

Since its launch, Big Green DAO has attracted both large and small donors. Several high-profile donors have provided large amounts of funds, something Kimbal Musk expected from the start, but a slew of smaller donors has also injected the project with considerable amounts of cash. This grassroots support has been a pleasant surprise for the DAO’s leaders, suggesting that the democratization of philanthropy is already well underway.

If you’d like to contribute to the environmentally friendly project yourself, you can make a donation by following the instructions on Big Green DAO’s website. The group accepts donations in many cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ether. 

While donations aren’t currently being used to fund new projects, they’ll still serve to further the group’s endeavors in one way or another. If the DAO experiment works, and more grants are made, then your donation will be added to the treasury. If, on the other hand, the experiment fails, your contribution will go toward the types of learning programs that Big Green has been operating for years.

Big Green DAO vs. Other Nonprofit Organizations

When discussing Big Green DAO, Kimbal Musk is eager to highlight that nothing like this has ever been tried before. The project is truly unique, uniting the worlds of philanthropy and DeFi in a novel, exciting fashion. All the same, there are certainly ways in which the project adheres to the norms and standards of traditional nonprofits. After all, the overall goal of the project, which is to help as many people as possible, is the same objective that most philanthropic organizations have had throughout history.

When looking at Musk’s project next to other environmentally friendly organizations, one quickly notices that the DAO is growing out of an age-old tradition. Also clear is the genuine potential for growth and improvement that the experiment is attempting to harness. By drawing on the models of the past to create a better future, the DAO represents a perfect example of innovation at its finest.

Big Green DAO vs. Greenpeace

Big Green and Greenpeace share a common interest in the welfare of the planet, but they differ extensively in their methods. 

For Big Green, the playbook has always focused on providing educational opportunities for children. Greenpeace, on the other hand, takes a much more active role in the political debates around ecology and sustainability. With the creation of its DAO, Big Green has also moved into the crypto world, whereas Greenpeace remains skeptical of blockchain technology and its environmental impact.

Big Green DAO vs. Earthjustice

Earthjustice is another environmentally friendly organization that takes a slightly different approach from Big Green. Based in San Francisco, the group focuses on promoting climate justice and sustainable policies in courts of law. This legal focus, while representing an important part of the climate movement, sets Earthjustice apart from educational programs like those of Big Green.

Big Green DAO vs. World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is an international organization that aims to protect endangered species and preserve natural habitats. The group is truly global in scope, with major projects around the world. While the WWF hasn’t yet followed Big Green into the crypto space, the group’s massive scale makes it a worthy candidate to use blockchain technology for efficiency purposes. If Big Green DAO proves successful, groups like the WWF are sure to take notice.

Big Green DAO vs. Other Environmentally Friendly DAOs

Big Green might be innovative and experimental, but it’s not the only environmentally friendly organization to have launched an ethical DAO. Other forward-looking philanthropists have perceived the potential that blockchains hold for charitable organizations, and several DAOs are already up and running.

Many of these groups share Big Green’s passion for improving society and protecting the planet, each with its focus on particular goals. Together, these innovative organizations could build a philanthropic movement that capitalizes on the democratizing power of blockchains.

Big Green DAO vs. ClimateDAO

As its name suggests, ClimateDAO is focused on combating the negative effects of human-induced climate change. The DAO operates by coordinating groups of investors who can team up to influence companies that are currently contributing to carbon emissions. While both ClimateDAO and Big Green DAO are involved with funding, ClimateDAO focuses explicitly on corporate initiatives. Big Green pays more attention to community-based educational efforts.

Big Green DAO vs. KlimaDAO

KlimaDAO is another ethical DAO focused on climate change. Unlike Big Green DAO, this particular organization is based on the issuance of tokens. When traders purchase the tokens, they help offset the emissions produced by associated assets. This process helps bring attention to burgeoning carbon markets. Big Green, meanwhile, doesn’t sell any such tokens, and the group invites interested parties to donate funds rather than make crypto purchases.

Big Green DAO vs. ChangeDAO

ChangeDAO is a philanthropic DAO that supports a wide variety of social causes. Like KlimaDAO, this organization sells tokens to fund its efforts. Unlike KlimaDAO, however, which focuses exclusively on climate issues, ChangeDAO issues distinct NFTs that support separate causes. This arrangement allows traders to purchase tokens that will support the issues they care about most deeply.

While ChangeDAO currently exists on Ethereum, a blockchain that uses considerable amounts of energy itself, the group hopes to decrease its carbon footprint after it transitions to Ethereum 2.0 where it uses an ethical proof-of-stake blockchain instead. Much like Big Green, ChangeDAO reflects a proliferation of blockchain-based models in the world of philanthropy.

The Future of Big Green DAO

Big Green DAO is still in the early stages of its development. The project was only launched in 2021, and there’s still plenty left to be determined. The organization’s developers are very straightforward about the unpredictable nature of the project’s future. They openly call it an experiment, and they admit they can’t be sure that the project will even succeed. 

That being said, Kimbal Musk and other leaders are very enthusiastic about the DAO’s prospects. They understand that they’ve created something truly unique, and they’re eager to see where their invention takes them.

Many traders are wondering whether Big Green DAO will someday release an associated token. As mentioned above, several other ethical DAOs have used NFTs to raise money and increase the size of their autonomous communities. Big Green, for now, uses donations rather than token sales to fund its mission. Governance rules are set by an executive committee and community members from associated nonprofit organizations. Tokens exist only as mechanisms within the platform’s unique governance structure, and they’re not available for purchase.

While introducing tokens isn’t on Big Green’s current road map, it could still happen at some point in the future. Kimbal Musk and his colleagues are remarkably innovative, and they’re sure to consider any funding mechanism that has proven successful at other organizations. As they watch groups like KlimaDAO and ChangeDAO succeed with token-based models, they might be tempted to bring a similar format to their own project.

The Bottom Line

Big Green DAO is an exciting organization that could thrive at the intersection of Web 3.0 and traditional philanthropy. Kimbal Musk, a lifelong innovator and entrepreneur, thinks he’s hit upon a paradigm-busting formula. 

If Big Green DAO succeeds in empowering frontline workers and democratizing the grant-making process, other charities could adopt similar methods. Sooner or later, the power of blockchains could change philanthropy forever.